COVID-19 Neighborhood Profiles: Housing Vulnerability in Westlake

These neighborhood profiles highlight the intersections of COVID-19 and other social and economic indicators in specific neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles County. They are a feature of the NDSC COVID-19 Dashboard.
Many of Los Angeles’ majority renter population were feeling the pressure of the region’s housing crisis, which has been fueled by rising rents and stagnant wages, well before the pandemic. However, the economic and health fallout from the pandemic and subsequent shutdown are expected to put additional pressure on many of the county’s renters.
As of July 23, 2020, Westlake, a neighborhood just west of Downtown LA, had the highest COVID-19 cases (2,865) and the highest COVID-19 related deaths (143) of any neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles. Westlake also has some of the most cramped living conditions in the country. 38% of households are considered to be living in overcrowded housing, with more than one person per one room, compared to an average of 11% across the county. Overcrowded housing has been found to correlate with higher infections rates per capita and can put residents at greater risk of contracting the virus. Additionally, overcrowding is a result of the city’s housing crisis that has more and more families doubling up, living with relatives etc. Over 95% of households in Westlake rent (rather than own) their housing, and 59% of renters in the neighborhood are considered to be rent-burdened, meaning that they pay more than a third of their income on rent.
The map to the below shows overcrowding rates in Westlake and 9 other neighborhoods experiencing some of the highest COVID-19 case rates. Select your neighborhood from the menu to add it to the map. 
59% of the population in Westlake are immigrants, 73% of which are non-citizens, meaning that many of these residents have been left out of unemployment benefits and COVID-related relief programs. The economic impacts of COVID-19 may place many residents of the neighborhood in imminent danger of eviction once certain protections such as the County’s moratorium on evictions, which has been extended through September, are lifted.

Mackenzie Goldberg
Mackenzie Goldberg is a Master of Urban Planning student at USC Price. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from Reed College in Portland, OR. Prior to coming to USC, Mackenzie worked as a writer and editor for an architectural publication based in Los Angeles, CA, where she came to understand the many ways in which policy undergirds our built environment. Her research interests lie at the cross-sector of planning policy, urban design, and community organizing. Through her work, she hopes to better engage communities in the systems that govern our cities. 
COVID-19 Cases in New York City, a Neighborhood-Level Analysis. NYU Furman Center. Link.